Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Experiment Seems To Confirm The B-Theory Of Time


A Christian I was debating on YouTube who holds to the B-theory of time actually linked me this new scientific paper that appears to show the first experimental evidence that the universe is indeed static and that time "emerges" from quantum entanglement. This might be the first empirical evidence that the B-theory of time is actually true. See below.


Quantum Experiment Shows How Time ‘Emerges’ from Entanglement


Excerpt:


When the new ideas of quantum mechanics spread through science like wildfire in the first half of the 20th century, one of the first things physicists did was to apply them to gravity and general relativity. The result were not pretty.

It immediately became clear that these two foundations of modern physics were entirely incompatible. When physicists attempted to meld the approaches, the resulting equations were bedeviled with infinities making it impossible to make sense of the results.

Then in the mid-1960s, there was a breakthrough. The physicists John Wheeler and Bryce DeWitt successfully combined the previously incompatible ideas in a key result that has since become known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. This is important because it avoids the troublesome infinites—a huge advance.

But it didn’t take physicists long to realise that while the Wheeler-DeWitt equation solved one significant problem, it introduced another. The new problem was that time played no role in this equation. In effect, it says that nothing ever happens in the universe, a prediction that is clearly at odds with the observational evidence.

This conundrum, which physicists call ‘the problem of time’, has proved to be thorn in flesh of modern physicists, who have tried to ignore it but with little success.

Then in 1983, the theorists Don Page and William Wootters came up with a novel solution based on the quantum phenomenon of entanglement. This is the exotic property in which two quantum particles share the same existence, even though they are physically separated.

Entanglement is a deep and powerful link and Page and Wootters showed how it can be used to measure time. Their idea was that the way a pair of entangled particles evolve is a kind of clock that can be used to measure change.

But the results depend on how the observation is made. One way to do this is to compare the change in the entangled particles with an external clock that is entirely independent of the universe. This is equivalent to god-like observer outside the universe measuring the evolution of the particles using an external clock.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Is Debating Morality With Theists So Fun? (Hint: Because They're Wrong)


Like Christopher Hitchens, I'm in love with debate, and debating morality with theists is probably one of my favorite debate topics. The reason why I enjoy that debate so much is because I know they're simply wrong on about it. Case in point, theists must simply assert that god is identical to "the good" or moral perfection itself but cannot justify whether god's goodness comes logically prior to any attributes that might constitute god's goodness or not.

Now perhaps I might not be writing here anything that I haven't already done before on numerous other posts, but since the moral debate is one atheists will find themselves confronted with time and time again, it might be worth repeating. When a theists asserts that god is identical to moral perfection he or she isn't doing anything other than playing word games. I can simply define the word "God" as being a synonym of goodness, but I certainly haven't demonstrated that an actual being exists that is ontologically identical with goodness, let alone been able to conflate that being to the deity of a particular religion. All I've done is played words games with you and claimed victory (ha ha!). But it's a premature calculation.

Seriously though, for any theist who does this, the next trick up their sleeve (if they see you're not convinced) is going to be something like, "It is impossible for God to be evil or command something evil, like rape, because God's intrinsic nature is that of moral perfection. God is necessarily morally perfect." The theist here is trying to get all philosophical on your ass: God is necessarily perfect because he can't be any other way. But I still find it hard to palate the idea of how the theist can know or can determine what a perfect moral being is without appealing to some standard that exists independently of such a being. Otherwise, if the being itself is what determines moral perfection, then is it not the case that one can appeal to the logic that what ever that being does or commands is perfectly moral by definition, no matter what that is? How do we determine that god is morally perfect? If god is simply just being defined as such, then following this line of reasoning allows Islamic fundamentalists to stone to death adulterers and jail/execute blasphemers - hardly something we in the West would consider moral.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jack Kerouac : King of the Beats (2012) Full Documentary




Watching this documentary makes me want to be a writer. A real writer, not just some blogger. I'm trying to write a novel right now and let me tell you it is FUCKING hard. I have about 79 pages so far, but I have no idea how many of them are useful. I can sometimes write for hours and hours and feel I'm making great progress, and then for days I write nothing. Nada. Creativity can't exactly be scheduled, it rears its head whenever it wants. I can't set my alarm to go off at 9 AM and declare, "It's time to be creative." It just doesn't work that way.

I've always wanted to actually write a book. Any book. The idea of writing a novel crossed my mind numerous times and I've had a few false starts that never went anywhere. This time it's different. I'm going to complete this novel or die trying. I'm aiming for at least 150 pages, but more closer to 200. Any real novel has at least about that much. The problem is I get creative mostly at night, right before I'm supposed to go to bed, right when I'm drowsy. I can't write anything during the day for some reason. I seem to have a creative aversion to bright light. I thrive in the darkness. I'm naturally nocturnal, did I mention?

There's going to be lots of philosophy in my book, along with sex and drugs. I'm going to touch on many topics dear to me: atheism, nihilism, existentialism, free will, determinism, Buddhism, religion, dating, polyamory, feminism, partying, economics and more, all through the mind of a millennial living in contemporary New York. I'm confident it will be awesome. It will be exactly the kind of book I would want to read. Isn't that the goal of every writer?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Even The Bible Is Inconsistent On Why There Is Suffering





Prof. Bart Ehrman gives a lecture on the Bible's many explanations why suffering exists. In doing so, he shows it isn't exactly consistent. (Surprise!) Some books in the Bible (like Amos) say that suffering comes from god's punishment for disobeying him, others (like the Book of Daniel) say that there are evil forces in the world that tempt you to do evil and disobey god, and these forces cause suffering, and yet others (like Ecclesiastes) say that we should live with the focus on our current life and enjoy it as much as we can since there is nothing after this.

Wow, talk about being all over the map.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Belief-dependent Realism


I'm currently reading Michael Shermer's book, The Believing Brain, which is about "how we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths." Since debating with a presuppositionalist recently, I've been intrigued about epistemology and how we form our worldviews. I contend that the presuppositionalist view is epistemologically irrational. To presuppose an entire religion as your starting point is the logical equivalent of putting the names of a bunch of religions in a hat and blindly picking one out and deciding that whatever religion you picked will henceforth be your worldview. Reason and evidence must precede one's worldview and must serve as the justification for concluding it. This can be done by assuming only the most fundamental properly basic beliefs that are required to make any sense of the world around us. Otherwise, you might as well indeed just blindly pick a worldview out of a hat.

Within the first chapter however, Shermer's thesis makes an interesting observation that I think could lend itself to the presuppositionalist's epistemology. On page 5 he writes:

We form beliefs for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large; after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify, and rationalize them with a host of intellectual reasons, cogent arguments, and rational explanations.

Here's the kicker. He continues:

Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow. I call this process belief-dependent realism, where our perceptions about reality are dependent on the beliefs that we hold about it. Reality exists independent of human minds, but our understanding of it depends upon the beliefs we hold at any given time.

If our beliefs do come first, and our explanations for our beliefs follow, then might this also apply to the atheist as well? Is the atheist just presupposing atheism due to his "subjective, personal, emotional and psychological reasons" in the context of his environment? Or is his worldview methodologically superior and more adept at constructing the closest depiction of the reality that exists independent of our minds?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Atheism, It's A Guy Thing


Statistically, if you're an atheist or an agnostic you are much more likely to be male. Just look around at atheist gatherings and conventions. It's practically all guys! A pew survey from 2012 showed that men out number women 2 to 1 for those identifying as atheist/agnostic. Wow. I didn't know it was that bad.

So why aren't women embracing non-religiosity as much as men and what can be done to increase their numbers? The same survey also showed that women, more than men, are more likely to be affiliated with a particular religion. I hate to stereotype here, but I think the numbers might be due to the emotional dependency many women naturally have. Studies have shown that it is harder for women to quite smoking than men for example, because they are more likely to use cigarettes as an emotional comfort. And since religious belief is primarily emotional and not logical, it would make sense that women, being more emotional than men, naturally would find greater security in it.

So, just as it appears women find it harder to kick the habit with smoking, they too find it harder to let go of religion. That means deconverting from theism to atheism is generally a much more difficult emotional experience for women, whereas for guys it is comparatively easier. I didn't have a harrowing deconversion experience that many current atheists have had, so I can't speak from experience. But it seems that women will need more emotional support on their way out of religion. Perhaps that means it is necessary that a welcoming, emotionally supportive atheistic community exist that could provide the same levels of emotional security that religion is currently providing, in order to get larger numbers of women to embrace atheism. That means atheists should squash a lot of this in-fighting. And when it comes to counter-apologetics, maybe emphasizing the more emotionally-tinged arguments like the ones that show how all religions are pretty much sexist and have less than ideal views towards women, would better appeal to women who might embrace atheism.

Many women who reject traditional theism I think will find spirituality more comforting than atheism. Within spirituality you can conceive of god as a goddess, synonymous with mother nature, or a great feminine spirit. That will likely appeal to women more, and the statistics of the "nones" who are not atheist/agnostic appear a bit more even in the gender gap. The "spiritual but not religious" identity I'm sure many atheists would prefer over traditional theism, especially fundamentalism. But the atheist community would really like to see more women embracing full frontal atheism bereft of any spiritual mushyness.  

We've got work to do.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Feminism Is Tearing Apart The Atheist Community


For most of the past year or so on my blog I've been balls deep into counter apologetics, taking on every religious argument that crossed my radar. While that currently is and probably will continue to be the primary focus of my blog, that's not all I want it to be about. So let's talk about some social issues for a bit.

The atheist/skeptic/free thinking community has been divided over feminism for the past few years. AronRa spoke about this recently in a new video he put out about how stupid all this in-fighting really is and how bad it's making the community look. This is even more pressing when you consider that atheists are already one of the most despised demographics in the US. Our focus as a community should be in promoting the naturalistic worldview as best we can, and promoting free thinking devoid of religious dogma as the practical and healthy alternative.

I've generally avoided in-fighting other than making a few criticisms of what atheists sometimes do usually in the area of defending atheism. But this whole thing about feminism has gotten me riled up. If feminism is defined as equality between the sexes, then who today would be against that? Yes many republicans wouldn't but they're batshit crazy. I mean what normal person today would be against equality of the sexes? Part of my criticism of religion is that most religions are extremely sexist. And I can't use that as a counter-argument against religion if I myself am a sexist. So integrity forces me not to be a hypocrite on this issue.

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